West LA: Dim Sum at The Palace
I recently checked out The Palace in West Los Angeles. I have been to this restaurant location more than 10 years ago when it was a different Chinese restaurant. I wasn’t too thrilled but with the scarcity of dim sum or even just Chinese restaurants in West LA 10 years ago, it was acceptable.
The Palace however is much better than that long departed restaurant. I dropped in one busy Sunday though we only waited less than 30 minutes for a table for 3.
I drove the train and ordered the bulk of our food. We had to start with the standards like siu mai and har gow. The siu mai (we ordered both pork and chicken ones) were shockingly small to me. I have not seen such small dumplings since the 80s before everything became plumper and bigger when the majority of the Chinese food scene moved east to the San Gabriel Valley from Chinatown near downtown LA.
This doesn’t mean the taste was affected of course. They were pretty good actually.
The har gow, the crystal shrimp dumplings, were fine. They were an average size.
I really liked the spare ribs. They had good flavor though I should mention for those who have never had them before, it seems like a bit of work for small amount of meat for each bony piece. That’s the joy of real Chinese food- lots of offal, bones and other odd bits and pieces.
I ordered the turnip cake off of a cart but not the kind where they heat it up and give it an extra sear or two. The sear on these were the only things holding the cakes together. These were not my favorite version of them but others liked them.
I thought the egg rolls could have been fried longer and stuffed with more filling. They were a little soft on the inside and not as crisp.
I did love the shrimp curry balls and they were my favorite item of the day. It had a distinct curry flavor while coming off lightly flavored. The balls had that great bounciness that the Chinese love.
I knew the veggie dumplings were oversteamed from the gaping hole in one of them. Still, these were a nice break from all the pork and shrimp.
Lately one of my new favorite dim sum items are the shrimp balls with sticky rice. These are fun to eat.
The Chinese broccoli were a tiny bit over cooked but perhaps it’s a good thing because otherwise others might avoid the stems.
I always get egg tarts to end my dim sum. These sweet egg custard tarts are often my favorite part of dim sum. These were okay.
Overall, the dim sum was very old school and reminded me of my childhood. It’s a classic spot and it will do very well. I described it as a 7 or 8 for the Westside (while it’s more of a 3 compared to the modern dim sum spots that don’t do carts anymore). That’s right, The Palace has dim sum carts. And perhaps that is a very important thing to note.
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